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Paul O'Connell appointment a 'very, very positive step' says Cullen


Paul O'Connell was appointed forwards coach to the Irish national team this morning, with Leinster head coach Leo Cullen describing it as a "very, very positive" move.

O'Connell will serve as Andy Farrell's forwards coach during the upcoming Six Nations championship, while Simon Easterby will vacate the role to focus on a new defence brief.

Easterby's lineout had come under fire during the 2020 Six Nations and Autumn Nations Cup, particularly in the games away to both France and England.

Speaking this afternoon ahead of tomorrow's Conference A showdown with Ulster, Leinster head coach Leo Cullen says the recruitment of the former Ireland and Lions captain is an exciting move.

"Definitely, Paulie is someone with so much playing experience, and he's had his time as well with the 20s, had his stint in France as well. By the sounds of it he's been accumulating bits of knowledge over the last couple of years.

"In terms of what he'll bring to the group, he's so much experience that he can pass on to lots of young players coming through. I think it should be a very, very positive step for that national coaching group," Cullen said.

The Leinster head coach named a strong starting 15 for tomorrow night's game versus the unbeaten Ulster. The defending champions come into the game eight points back from the current leaders, although they have two games in hand.

And while they have been able to welcome back Jordan Larmour from injury, as well as the bulk of their Irish internationals, the inclusion of Ross Byrne at outside centre raised plenty of eyebrows. In his 96 Leinster appearances during his career to date, he's never started a game away from the outhalf shirt.

He'll pair up with Robbie Henshaw in the centre, while Johnny Sexton starts at outhalf. Head coach Leo Cullen says chose not to elaborate on the way his new-look backline will shape p.

"Ross comes back in and how those guys set up between the three of them - obviously Johnny, Ross and Robbie, we'll keep everybody guessing!" he said with a smile.

PAUL O'CONNELL TO BECOME IRELAND'S FORWARDS COACH FOR SIX NATIONS

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Irish Rugby Leinster Rugby Leo Cullen Paul O'Connell Ross Byrne

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